Thursday, April 19, 2012

On the fence

So... I saw a headline that grabbed my eye. Arizona Bible Course Bill To Teach Elective In Public Schools Becomes Law, at the Huffington Post.

Arizona becomes the sixth state to allow districts to offer a high school elective Bible course. Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina are currently the only ones with laws permitting these courses. Other states like Kentucky have introduced similar proposals, but the bills have failed to be come law.

The Arizona course must follow state and federal laws in maintaining religious neutrality, and credits from the course would count toward student graduation. Students are also not to be required to use a specific version of the Bible. Republican state Rep. Terri Proud, who sponsored the bill, said the proposals are written in a way that make it clear that teachers can teach the Bible "in a very restricted way."

Proud says students would benefit from learning about the Bible as foundational, basic knowledge. Arizona state law doesn't ban the use of the Bible or other religious texts in the classroom as long as it is being used for academic purposes without intent on religious indoctrination.

Now, this is a tricky subject. On one hand, the Bible exists and has had a profound effect on the course of western culture. Therefore, I think people should learn about it. I learned about it in school in a way that I felt was entirely appropriate.

That being said, something tells me that anything short of preaching and indoctrination will be seen as a war on religion by the extremely conservative Republicans in Arizona. And I wonder why they don't simply have a religion class that teachers are more rounded version of religions and their effects on the cultures of their times and today?

So, I don't oppose the teaching of a Bible course, if done right, but I will withhold any judgement on this legislation until I learn more and I question the need to exclude other religions.